This is a favourite of mine and my family. I got it from a recipe book called Taverna by Georgina Hayden and I thought I’d share it with you with a few adjustments for the recipe to make it gluten and dairy free. I swapped the semolina for the same amount of gluten free polenta, the butter for an olive spread and dried figs because I find that they are much sweeter than normal figs. The result is the same moist, delicate loaf found in the cookbook.
230g Olive spread
300g caster sugar
3-4 dried figs
3 large eggs
175g ground almonds
125g gluten free polenta
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 900g loaf tin and line with grease proof paper.
Cut 30g of the butter into cubes and place in a small sauce pan in a medium heat to melt. Add 100g of the caster sugar. Finely grate the zest of the orange into a small bowl and set to one side, then squeeze the juice of half the fruit into the saucepan with the butter, reserving the other orange half for later. Stir everything together, leave for 5 minutes until it has become a light syrup, then pour into the bottom of the lined loaf tin.
Cut the figs into half centimetre slices. Line as many of the slices as you can in the bottom of the tin in a single layer going up the sides a little if possible. If you have a few slices left, they’re the chefs treat.
Add the remaining 200g of butter to a large bowl with the remaining 200g of caster sugar. Beat until pale and creamy with a wooden spoon or in a mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and don’t worry if it splits slightly, it will come back together. Add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder and salt to the bowl and beat until smooth. Stir in the reserved zest and the orange blossom water and squeeze in the juice from the remaining orange half. Mix together, then pour the batter into the loaf tin over the sliced figs.
Place the cake into the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes, until it is golden and cooked through. Check it’s cooked by inserting a skewer into the middle; it should come out clean with no batter on it. When ready, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then gently turn it out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely. Serve with a cooling dollop of Greek yoghurt or a splash of double cream.
Stored in an airtight container, it should last 3-4 days, or in my house, 2.